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Search Tips & Tools

Use these tips and tools to increase your chances of finding relevant information.

Phrase searching

To search for a key phrase, use quotations marks.

Example:  "attention deficit"


To search for a word's alternative endings, include an asterisk directly after the root of the word. 

Note: the asterisk technique can vary from database to database. If you find it's not working, use a database's Help section to look for its truncation symbol.

Example: environment* (finds environment, environments, environmental, environmentalist, environmentalism, etc.)

Synonym searching with "OR" and parentheses

Use parentheses and the word OR to group synonyms together.

Example: (teenagers OR adolescents)

Searching multiple concepts with "AND"

Connect your keywords and phrases using the capital AND.

Example: (teenagers OR adolescents) AND environment* AND ("attention deficit" OR ADHD)

Synonym tools

  • Visuwords shows how words are related to each other in visual, mind-map style.
  • Synonyms360 does not offer definitions, but it includes lots (a plethora, an abundance, an extravagance, a plenitude...) of synonyms!
  • defines words in plain English and provides lots of examples of the word in a sentence. It anticipates potential confusion about the word and clears it up.

Choosing keywords

Which keywords are most relevant to a search? Play the Magnetic Keyword Game to practice selecting the most important search terms.

Need some help?

Chat with us, email, call (802-387-1648), or visit the Library with any questions.

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